12 February 2011

Long tradition of mixing languages

“Language mixing in literary texts has been commented upon by literary scholars and medievalists for a long time,” writes D. A. Trotter in Multilingualism in Later Medieval Britain (2000), citing examples from Latin-French-English macaronic poems, Piers Plowman, English-Latin-French-Hebrew medieval drama, and Mary Play.  He concludes his brief survey with this:  “Even this rather sketchy survey of mixed-language texts from almost five centuries should have illustrated that switching is evidently a common phenomenon in the history of written English texts and occurs in a variety of domains, text types and/or genres.”  Note the word "common."  The large number of predominantly English literary texts today that incorporate words and sentences from various languages shows that the classical tradition of mixing languages within one text is continuing and, in fact, getting stronger.

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